China’s economy is likely to miss Beijing’s growth target for the first time since the Asian financial crisis at the end of the last century, after official figures showed the country’s seismic manufacturing sector barely grew in December.

A housing market slump and attempts to rebalance China’s heavily investment-dependent economy have held back growth this year, and data on Tuesday showed factory output expanding at its slowest rate for 18 months.

The government’s Purchasing Managers’ Index – a survey of private sector manufacturing companies – fell from 50.3 in November to 50.1 in December.

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